Sen. Wagle elected president of Kansas Senate; Merrick new House speaker
UPDATE: Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, elected by GOP caucus House speaker.
Topeka — Fourteen years ago, Susan Wagle was stunned after the votes were counted and she lost the House speaker's race to Robin Jennison.
Since then, Wagle, a veteran legislator, has been elected to the Senate and on Monday she was elected president of the Senate, the first woman in Kansas history to attain that position.
The Republican from Wichita was elected by her GOP colleagues over state Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, in a 23-9 vote.
Wagle, who has been treated several times for cancer, said her election will give hope to people who are struggling with the disease.
"It brings hope and encouragement to an awful lot of people who want a reason to get out of bed in the morning," Wagle said.
Her election also signifies the takeover by conservative Republicans of the Kansas Senate from moderate Republicans. The current Senate president, Steve Morris, of Hugoton, was among a number of moderate Republicans defeated by conservatives in the Republican Party primary in August.
Other leaders selected by the Senate Republican caucus were Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, for majority leader, and Jeff King, R-Independence for vice president.